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Authors: R.L. Stine

All-Night Party (5 page)

BOOK: All-Night Party
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Gretchen took a deep breath. She felt surrounded
by the night's deep, velvety silence. So peaceful. So quiet. So different from inside the cabin.

She suddenly wished she didn't have to go back.

Back to Marco.

Back to Jackson.

Gretchen stared up at the sky. It had stopped raining, but thick clouds still hovered above. Another storm was approaching.

I'd better get the firewood before it starts raining again, she thought.

Clicking on her flashlight, Gretchen hurried down the porch steps and made her way alongside the cabin to a nearby shed. She found a few pieces of wood inside and picked them up.

As she approached the back of the cabin, she heard loud voices. From in the kitchen.

Gretchen felt embarrassed eavesdropping. But she couldn't resist.

She moved closer to the cabin wall and stood just below the kitchen window.

She couldn't see inside. The window was too high. But she heard the voices clearly.

Two voices.

Male and female.

Raised and angry.

She recognized Cindy's voice. But who was the boy?

She listened more closely.

Jackson.

But what could
they
be arguing about? Cindy
and Jackson were only casual friends—weren't they?

Gretchen listened hard. She couldn't make out any words, but the argument sounded angry.

Then she heard a sharp sound that made her gasp in surprise.

A slap.

Chapter
11

W
as it a slap?

Yes. Cindy cried out.

Alarmed, Gretchen lurched away from the window.

What should she do? Go back inside and check it out?

No. It wasn't any of her business.

Besides, Patrick and Marco were still inside. If things got out of control between Cindy and Jackson, one of them would break it up.

Gretchen hurried away from the cabin. With the beam from her flashlight leading the way, she moved deeper into the forest, needing a little more time away from everyone.

As she walked on, the light flickered and grew dim. She could barely see the trees in front of her.

Oh, no, Gretchen thought. The flashlight is dying.

She shook the flashlight until the batteries rattled. The beam of light grew strong again, and Gretchen sighed with relief.

I guess I'd better head back for the cabin. I don't want to get caught out here in the dark with no way of finding my way back.

But before Gretchen could turn around, the light went out.

“Great,” Gretchen muttered.

She flicked the switch back and forth. She jiggled the batteries.

Nothing happened.

Gretchen sighed. She tried not to panic.

Ever since she was a little girl, she had been afraid of the dark.

Afraid of something lurking in the shadows.

Waiting.

Watching.

Stop it! she scolded herself. Stop scaring yourself.

Still, Gretchen didn't like being by herself.

Especially with an escaped prisoner on the loose.

She turned and started walking back in the darkness.

As she walked, Gretchen listened to the sounds of the forest. The hooting of an owl. The chirping of crickets.

Then, far up ahead, through the trembling branches, Gretchen could see the lights from the cabin.

Okay, it's not so far. I can make it.

Then she heard something else.

A scraping sound.

Up ahead of her.

Gretchen stopped. “Who's there?” she called out.

No answer.

“Is anyone there?” she called again.

Still no answer.

“Marco, if that's you, I don't think it's funny,” Gretchen called into the darkness.

No answer.

The scraping grew louder.

Gretchen felt her body trembling with fear. She held her breath and listened.

Something was out there.

Coming closer.

The sound vanished. Gretchen's body sagged in relief. She took a gulp of air.

No one's there. I'm freaking out over nothing. It was only an animal. That's all.

She searched for the cabin lights again. But she couldn't see them through the thick brush.

It's out there, somewhere, she reassured herself. I know it.

She took a few steps forward, but stopped when another sound ripped through the silence of the night.

The sound of
breathing
.

Human breathing.

“Who's there?” Gretchen cried out.

No answer.

But the breathing grew heavier.

Gretchen's mouth turned dry. She stopped and
leaned against a tree trunk. She could feel her heart pounding against her ribs.

If it was Hannah or Gil or anyone else from the cabin, they'd answer.

Unless…

Unless it
wasn't
someone from the cabin.

And if it wasn't one of her friends…

Gretchen's stomach tightened as she realized who it might be.

The escaped prisoner
.

I've got to run, she decided. But before she could move, a figure leapt out of the woods.

And grabbed her.

Chapter
12

G
retchen opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out.

Marco laughed.

“Gotcha again!” he exclaimed, holding her tightly.

“You idiot!” Gretchen shrieked.

She furiously pounded her fists on his chest. “You're sick! You're really sick!”

“Whoa—calm down,” Marco protested. “It was only a joke.”

“Joke? I
told
you about the escaped prisoner! What were you thinking?”

“Gretchen, lighten up.”

“Let me go!” Gretchen cried, struggling to break away from him. “Let me go!”

Marco dropped his arms and backed away. “What's
your problem? All night long you've been avoiding me. You act as if you don't even want me here.”

“I
don't!”
Gretchen blurted out.

“Huh?”

“You weren't supposed to be here. I purposely didn't invite you,” she admitted.

Marco's face grew tight as he stared at Gretchen. She'd seen that expression before. Right before he lost his temper.

Gretchen braced herself and watched his reaction.

“What did I do?” Marco asked.

“Nothing,” Gretchen replied, shaking her head. “It's just that—” She stopped. She didn't know how to explain.

But she had to tell him. “Listen, I didn't invite you because I didn't want to see you. I guess I don't want to see you anymore.”

“Huh?” Marco took a step toward Gretchen. She backed away from him.

“What's the matter, Gretchen?” Marco asked. He sneered at her. “Scared of me?”

“No. No, I'm not,” she replied, taking another step back.

His hand reached into the back pocket of his jeans. He pulled out a slim, shiny metal object.

Her eyes widened with shock and her breath caught in her throat.

A switchblade glistened in the palm of his hand.

Marco pressed a button, and the blade snapped out.

“What are you doing with that thing?” Gretchen cried. “Put it away.”

“I need it,” Marco answered quietly. “I need it.”

Gretchen inched away from Marco. She tried not to stare at the knife in his hand. But she couldn't tear her eyes away.

“I didn't mean to hurt you, Marco,” Gretchen whispered. “Honest. Maybe I'm not so good at explaining these things. But we're not right for each other. Can't you see?”

Marco didn't answer. He moved closer to Gretchen.

“I've used this knife before, and I'm going to use it again,” he whispered. “Tonight.”

Tonight?

“Marco—no!” Gretchen shrieked.

Marco swung his hand up high.

And plunged the knife into Gretchen's chest.

Chapter
13

W
ith a groan, Gretchen shut her eyes and waited for the stab of pain.

Her hands shot up to her chest.

She felt nothing. Nothing at all.

A sharp, slicing sound made her open her eyes.

“Ohh!” she cried out, realizing that Marco hadn't stabbed her.

He had stabbed the switchblade into the bark of a tree behind her.

Gretchen spun around and watched the knife tear through the soft wood.

Once. Twice. Three times.

She froze, unable to move a muscle as Marco savagely hacked away at the tree.

Bits of damp bark hit her face. Marco was grunting and gasping for breath as he slashed at the tree.

“W-w-what are you doing?” Gretchen stammered.

“I'm angry,” Marco shot back through gritted teeth. “I'm really angry, Gretchen. I—I don't understand. Why did you do this to me?”

“I'm sorry,” Gretchen stammered. She bit down on her lower lip. “I don't know what else to say.”

Marco stepped back from the tree, breathing heavily. He wiped sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand. Then he closed the knife and slid it back into his pocket.

Without saying another word, Marco turned his back on Gretchen and walked toward the cabin.

Gretchen hurried after him. She didn't know what she was going to say when she caught up. But she could see that she had hurt his feelings.

She hadn't meant to be so blunt, but…

“Marco—” she began.

He cut her off. “Save it, Gretchen. You got your message across. Loud and clear.”

They walked the rest of the way in silence. As they neared the cabin, it started raining again, cold, heavy drops.

Gretchen opened the door of the cabin, expecting to hear laughter and voices.

But she heard only silence.

She stepped into the front room. The fire had burned low. Some of the candles had gone out. The
birthday banner draped over the fireplace had fallen.

A chill swept down Gretchen's spine. The emptiness of the room spooked her.

“Where is everyone?” she wondered.

Marco shrugged. “Maybe they went out for a walk. Or maybe they went home. Some party.”

Marco flopped down on the sofa, his arms crossed over his chest. He stared into the low flames of the dying fire.

Gretchen listened to the rain beat steadily on the cabin roof. Within seconds, everyone would be rushing inside, ready to party.

I'd better go get the cake set up, she thought.

Gretchen pushed open the kitchen door.

She stopped in alarm. What a mess! What had happened in here?

The canister of flour on the counter had been tipped over, spilling flour everywhere.

On the floor. On the counter.

But what were those stains in the flour?

Dark red stains.

Gretchen's eyes followed the dark trail.

“No!” She uttered a sharp cry when she saw Cindy.

On the floor.

On her back in the flour.

An angry red slash in her side.

Blood leaked out, over her clothes, forming a dark puddle in the white flour.

BOOK: All-Night Party
8.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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